Lessons Learned from the Living of Life

Some of life's greatest lessons do not come from organized classroom learning sessions. Neither are they to be found in a research paper within a technical journal or a textbook from your personal library. They come from the living of life. And...


Some of life's greatest lessons do not come from organized classroom learning sessions. Neither are they to be found in a research paper within a technical journal or a textbook from your personal library. They come from the living of life. And sometimes you need look no further than your family and friends for the best lessons of all. That is what this commentary is all about.
 
Let me take a point of personal privilege here. Some really neat things have been happening in my world and I want to share them with you. More than that, as is my way, I want to share the lessons which have been gleaned from the living of life during the past few weeks. I would like to thank my long-time buddy Roger Melchoir from Florida for striking the spark which led me to use my computer for something other than reading jokes or grading my university work.
 
Roger's message asked me if everything was alright in the Carter household. It seems as though he was concerned that I had nothing up on the Firehouse.com website. Let me share with you that all is well. As a matter of fact, everything is going quite well, thank you. The last few weeks have been a blur of glad tidings. However, in the midst of joy, life's lessons can still bubble up to the surface if one takes the time to look for them.
 
Let me assure you that there is a real reason for my inattention to the world of the written word. Between a series of joyous family occasions and the aftermath of my outstanding trip to the great state of Nebraska, I have had precious little time to sit down at my computer and parse words with you. Between waiting at airports, teaching in class, and enjoying the events in my life, little time was left over to indulge my passion for writing. Not to worry. I am back on line now.
 
Let me start by sharing the joyous events which have been such a great part of my life over the past few weeks. On May 27, my daughter Ellen became engaged to be married to Patrick Molloy of Shamong Township, New Jersey. Having been a part of the secret process leading up to this great moment for more than a month, it was a joyful relief to finally get the official word on this great event from Ellen herself. It was also really neat to see Ellen ask her sister Kathleen to be her Maid of Honor.   Me, I am just the emotional dad for this very important event.
 
Ellen and Kathleen are always making an issue of my emotional approach to life. Katie is the tough guy and Ellen is the social butterfly. Each has, in their own way, taught the old Dadster a great deal about dealing with the younger generations. So of you might remember that it was Kathleen who taught me a great deal about how to teach and train the members of her generation. Her dedicated work in the fire company has given me a great deal of joy and pride over the years. Ellen has worked hard to cultivate a love of music and the theater in my life. Let me thank them both for all they have done.
 
Let me now share what I learned from Patrick with you. I learned that he is a man who believes in the old concepts of respect and deference. More than a month before the night he proposed, he came into my officer here at home and asked if he could have a word with me. He then asked me for my permission to marry my daughter. It was a moment that brought a tear to my eye. But think about it, how many people would just go ahead and get engaged, with no regard for the feelings of the parents. I was proud to share this moment with my wife. We have both come to really love Patrick over the past year. 
 
Another great moment came on Memorial Day 2011. It might not mean a lot to most of you, but I did something which I had not done for more than five or six years. I actually marched in the Freehold, New Jersey Memorial Day Parade with my buddies from the Adelphia Fire Company. More than that, my friends, in addition to just marching, I returned to my old role of counting the cadence for the fire company. 
 
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